Posted by: worshipguitarguy | October 21, 2008

Worship Guitar Chords Exposed!: The Key of C

Among guitar players I know, C is probably the least popular of the five CAGED chord forms, but it is still a very useful voicing.  I often joke about the C forms being the cowboy or southern gospel forms, since I’ve found them throughout both traditional country music and it’s Christian quartet based cousin. (The reason I know this is many of the musicians I play with come out of southern gospel family backgrounds.  Fortunately, they “Saw the Light” though, no pun intended. 😉  )

If you’re looking for something different in a song you’re playing, take a listen to some old country rhythm patterns, and play around with the C chord positions below. 

C major:
For the C position chords, I use mostly the traditional way of playing to give that “old school” feel.  For instance, my C is a straight C major, with my index finger on the B string first fret, my middle finger on the D string second fret, and my ring finger on the A string third fret.  You then just mute the low E string.  C Major mp3
F major 7:
Here’s the one exception to standard major chords with the C position forms.  The Fmaj7 has a super cool voicing that creates a unique “tension” in the song.  I finger by placing my index finger on the B string first fret, my middle finger on the G string second fret, and my ring and pinky on the D and A strings at the third fret respectively.  To grab the low F note, I wrap my thumb around the top of the guitar neck.  One cool thing about playing this particular chord is it’s an easy switch from a C major to this form. F major 7 mp3
G Major:
Here’s a traditional three finger G major, (without the third fret on the B string fretted.)  by playing the G this way, you can throw in Gadd9 and G sus4 as variations.  If you’re looking for something with a bit more variation, try this… fret the Fmaj7 chord above, and slide all of those fingers up two frets.  I believe that’s a G6 and it also works very well in the key of C.  G major mp3
A minor
Again, this is a traditional A minor chord with your index finger on the G string first fret, and your middle and ring fingers on D and G strings respectively at the second fret.  A nice variation to throw in is an Am7, which just means you pick up your ring finger and play the G string open.  A minor mp3
E minor:
The easiest chord of the bunch.  The Em is played with your middle and ring fingers on the A and D strings at the second fret.  E minor mp3
C/E
The C over E chord has always been interesting for me, since I’ve always found it to sound quite strange.  It’s just a standard C chord, but with the E string strummed open instead of being muted.  When playing this chord, you may want to experiment with not hitting all six strings at once, due to the slightly “dischordant” feel I’ve found from playing it.  C/E mp3
G/B
The final slash or polytonal chord is the G/B.  it’s just your pinky and ring fingers on the high E and B strings at the third fret and your index finger at the second fret on the A string.  G/B mp3

 

C-G-Am-Fmaj7 Chords mp3
This is again an example of a 1-5-6m-4 progression, this time in the key of C with the chord forms shown above.

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Responses

  1. I like to use this voicing for F2: X33011

    Sometimes I will eliminate the E string altogether.

    Alternately, you can let the E string ring open to add the major 7th for color.

    I will sometimes slide the C shape up a couple of frets for this G chord: X5403X

    The open G string really clashes with the F# on the 4th freth to create an interesting dissonance. It works great in the key of G.

  2. Oops – I should have said that the last chord is a D(add4).

  3. There’s another way to voice C chords:

    C
    x32013

    Fadd9
    xx3213

    Gsus4
    3×0013

    Am7
    x02013

    Dm7add11 (no third)
    xx0213

    The nice thing about these chords is that they all have a droning 5th on top, and fifths are quite popular in praise and worship, as well as pop music in general (see U2 & Coldplay).

  4. key of C might not be that popular in Praise/Worship circle but is the staple of many secular songs from yester-years

  5. Very true rhoy

  6. Thanks for this. Sometimes I forget how good this position can sound, and just capo 5 and play in G when I want C. But this one can add some new sonic territories. Good stuff.

  7. C is actually my favorite key to play in, because it gives me a lot of room to add a lot of melodic/jazz notes. I always drop my low E string to drop D and it gives me this really bass F2 that sounds killers. You can also do a lot of pull offs in the key of C on every single string b/c there are no sharps. And last but not least. it’s in my vocal range. hahaha

  8. I would love 2 learn how to play worship on a bass guitar


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